LAUREL, MD. 12-08-12---This afternoon Bob Baffert sent a runner to Laurel Park for the first time in his career and his colt Brigand returned the favor with a front-running victory in the $104,000 City of Laurel Stakes.

Five 3-year-olds lined up for the seven-furlong City of Laurel. Brigand pushed to the front within a few strides of the start and raced comfortably on the lead down the backstretch under jockey Abel Castellano. Service for Ten, Bellefire and Javerre took up the chase, but at the end Brigand separated from the rest to win by a length, with Bellefire rallying to take second.

“The instructions were to break good, not hustle too much and let him do his own thing,” Castellano said. “We were pressured the whole backside but he relaxed. When we got to the half mile pole he changed the lead, he got relaxed and comfortable, he was going good and I knew I was going to have the horse left. That is a nice horse.”

Brigand, a son of Flatter who had placed in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (G3), the Jerome (G2) and the Mike Lee Stakes, was winning for the fourth time in twelve outings. The win boosted his career earnings to $288,820.

Baffert, who has saddled five Preakness Stakes (G1) winners during his Hall of Fame career had never started a runner at Laurel Park before today. This was his 10,376th starter.

“Bob chose this spot,” said owner Kaleem Shah, who lives in nearby Vienna, VA. “He told me this was a good spot. He thought he would win and that was good enough for me.”

The New York-bred covered the distance in 1:23.08 and paid $5.60 as the second betting choice.